Tuesday 25 February 2014

Latin Groove

In our two previous posts we introduced Recogito, a tool we are developing in order to efficiently extract, annotate and verify geographic references in texts. The development of Recogito is still continuing at full steam, and the team (and Leif in particular ;-) is feeding our feature backlog with a steady flow of new ideas & requirements. But despite the fact that there’s still a slight ambience of a busy construction site around Recogito, we have not just been developing. We have also been using it heavily to annotate new documents.

Prior to the start of Pelagios 3, we assembled a list of potential ancient sources to work on in each content work package. The sources we selected are specifically geographical works, i.e. documents where the authors give accounts of their world in their time. For some of the more extensive sources (such as Pliny’s Natural History), we restricted ourselves to only the specifically geographical chapters.

At the moment, we are about halfway through our first content work package, dealing with the Latin tradition (3 months out of 6). It’s therefore a good time to share with you the progress we made so far. The first three documents – the Vicarello Beakers, the Bordeaux Itinerary and Pliny’s Natural History – we already introduced previously. We've since found our groove and the list has grown much longer. Here are some documents we are currently working on:

Fig.1. The Bordeaux Itinerary (Part 1) in Recogito (» View Map)

Pomponius Mela: De Chorographia (around 43 AD)

Pomponius Mela lived during the government of Claudius and presumably died around the year 45 AD. His most famous work, cited by other great geographers such as Pliny the Elder, was De Chorographia. This work was composed of three volumes and was developed during the decade of the 40s. Each of his books is dedicated to an area of the known Roman world. In the first volume, Mela generally describes the world and its regions, the Mediterranean coasts of Africa and the Near East, starting from the Strait of Gibraltar. The second volume describes the coasts from the Near East to Hispania, where he talks about Greece, Italy and Gaul. Finally, the third volume describes the Atlantic territories, Britannia, and all remote territories, such as the German Limes, Arabia and India. » Map in Recogito

Laterculus Veronensis (AD 304-324?)

The Laterculus Veronensis is a listing of the various Roman provinces that existed during the governments of Diocletian and Constantine. Its chronology is therefore located between the years 284 and 337. The work is named due to the origin of the single manuscript that has been preserved in the Library of Verona. This source describes twelve dioceses gathering a total of over 100 provinces. » Map in Recogito

Avenius: Ora Maritima (AD IV)

Rufius Avienus Festus was an Etrurian poet, astronomer and geographer who lived in the 4th Century AD. He wrote several books and poems, the most prominent was Ora Maritima. This work is based on the Greek journey of Eutimenes of Massalia from the sixth century. Avienus used other sources such as the work of the first century BC Greek historian Ephorus. The use of this kind of ancient sources has introduced much confusion, making some places difficult to locate, and resulting in a mix of parts originating from very different times. » Map in Recogito

Rutilius Namatianus: A Voyage Home to Gaul (AD 416)

Rutilius Namatianus was born in southern Gaul, probably at the beginning of V century AD. He was a poet, but his only preserved work is the poem De reditu suo libri duo. It must have been written between 416 and 420 AD, and is composed in elegiac meter. Originally written in two volumes, the poem describes a trip down the coast from Rome to Gaul. Unfortunately, however, many parts (especially from the second volume) are lost, and the extant text stops at the port of Moon. » Map in Recogito

Jordanes: Getica (AD VI)

Jordanes lived during the sixth century AD and was of partially Gothic origin. It is believed that during his public career he was a notary and that he might further have had a religious career, coming to be a Bishop. Jordanes' fame comes from two major works, De regnorum ac Temporum successione, a world history from the creation to the 6th century, and De Origine et Rebu Getarum Gestis, better known as Getica. The latter one we have included in Pelagios 3 (restricting to the chapters with geographic descriptions). It is the only preserved source that explains the origin and characteristics of the Goths. » Map in Recogito

Bede: The ecclesiastical history of our island and nation (AD 703)

Bede, also referred as a Saint Bede, was born in England in the seventh century AD. He was a monk in the kingdom of Northumbria. Bede is known for his work Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, completed around the year 731 AD. This work consists of multiple volumes. It begins with the invasion of Caesar in 55 BC and ends with the fifth book, in the time of Bede himself. In Pelagios 3, we only have included the first chapters of this source, which are devoted to a geographical description of the British Isles. » Map in Recogito

Ammianus Marcellinus: Roman History (before 391)

This is a document we are currently starting to work on. Ammianus Marcellinus was a historian in the fourth century AD, probably born in Antioch. After developing his military career, he wrote one of the most famous stories of antiquity. His Res Gestae described the history of Rome from the government of Nerva in 96 to the Valeno’s death in 378. Unfortunately, the first thirteen books were lost, and the remaining eighteen contain missing parts. Only the last books survive, and are dedicated to the events between the years 353 and 378. Like in other cases, we only included those chapters where the geographic aspect was most prominent. » Map in Recogito

In numbers, we have already progressed to a total of 20.164 annotations (as of today), with an overall verification rate of 37.3% (which means we've confirmed more than 7.500 place references so far). But there are more Latin sources on our list which we yet have to address over the next three months. And our Greek content work package is about to start as well. So lots of exciting work ahead of us.

You can follow our progress live at http://pelagios.org/recogito!

- Ada, Pau & Rainer